The Yankees and Beltran agreed to a three-year, $45 million deal two weeks ago, and on Friday the veteran outfielder put on his pinstriped No. 36 uniform for the first time.
"Having the opportunity to come back again as a Yankee means a lot to me," he said. "I grew up being a Yankee fan. I grew up being a Bernie Williams fan. At one point [in 2005], I almost got a chance to sign with the Yankees, but it didn't work out."
Beltran ended up going to the Mets for seven years and $119 million. While he said he enjoyed his time in Flushing, he sounded bitter about how upper management treated him.
Speaking after Friday's news conference, Beltran was still upset about being singled out along with a couple of his teammates for missing an appearance at the Walter Reed Medical Center in 2010. He said at the time that he'd returned to Puerto Rico that day to work with one of his charities. He also said he felt the Mets did not handle his knee problems appropriately.
"All the controversy about the Walter Reed," Beltran said. "The knee -- the organization trying to put me as a player that was a bad apple. I was this, I was that. I can deal with 0-for-4 and three strikeouts and talk to you guys. But when someone is trying to hurt you in a very personal way, trying to put things out there ... then we got trouble. Now, it's personal.
"When they say all that about myself, I was hurt. You cannot believe the organization that signed you for seven years is trying to put you down. In that aspect, I felt hurt."
Beltran almost didn't become a Met in 2005. At his and then-agent Scott Boras' request, he met with Yankees owner George Steinbrenner in Tampa, Fla., offering a discounted price to eventually replace Williams in center.
"We came pretty close back then," said team president Randy Levine, who was in the room.
Ultimately the Yankees, with Williams still in center, declined and Beltran had some productive seasons with the Mets. Still, he's most remembered for taking a called third strike against Adam Wainwright that ended Game 7 in the Mets' loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2006 NLCS.
"When you don't win, everything is a failure," Beltran said.
Beltran, who turns 37 in April, joins his sixth franchise. He hit .296 with 24 home runs, 84 RBIs and an OPS of .830 this past season with the Cardinals and played in the World Series for the first time.
The Yankees' plan for Beltran is for him to play right field and also DH to protect his bad knees. The team has six outfielders (Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Alfonso Soriano, Ichiro Suzuki and Vernon Wells are the others) on the roster but likely will be down to four by the end of spring training because of trades, injuries or cuts.
"At some point, something is going to give," general manager Brian Cashman said.
Beltran decided on New York after being pursued heavily by the Arizona Diamondbacks and Kansas City Royals. The D-backs actually offered slightly more than the Yankees' ultimate offer of three years and $45 million.
The Yankees, a source told ESPNNewYork.com, were at three years for $39 million for a couple of weeks but were told $45 million would seal the deal. They reached that number two weeks ago and Beltran was in the Bronx on Friday.
"This is someone who has always wanted to be a Yankee," Cashman said. "We've experienced discussions along the way throughout our tenure with the possibility to bring him in here. We are happy to land him now."
Cashman evoked the name of The Boss and the late owner's penchant for bringing former Mets stars to the Bronx.
"George Steinbrenner and his family have had a chance to take some players that have been premier players with the New York Mets and later in their careers they have come over here to continue their successful runs as major league players," Cashman said. "Those examples are clearly David Cone, Dwight Gooden [and] Darryl Strawberry, to name a few."